Saturday, August 31, 2013

Flower Deals

It's funny, when I was younger I absolutely loved gardening of any kind- flowers, vegetables, herbs, houseplants etc. but now I seem to go through "spurts". Sometimes I am just all into vegetables and do nothing but vegetables for a few years. Then I somehow get all into flowers.This summer has been a bit of a mix though. I did plant some vegetables but for the most part they were a failure (5 cucumbers, two eating's of basil and maybe 2 tomatoes) so I guess I have turned to the flowers instead. I have some nice planters in the front yard that had great pansies in it through the winter and then they were replace with begonias and hostas. I had a planter out by the mailbox that had lovely violas (Johnny-jump-ups as my mother called them) and then were replaced with tiny pots of chrysanthemums and begonias as well. I have some huge pots of chrysanthemums on either side of the front steps. Inside I added several house plants as they came on sale but today's sale were for flowers.
The chrysanthemums are on sale again and I really just couldn't resist as they are three times the size they were last year for $.97 and I had that little flower garden started out back by the fence that I had put the roses in. I am not good about picking and matching colors. I am more of a "cottage garden" kind of girl where everything is all jumbled together but pretty. For instance my front flower garden is a jumble of elephant ears, yellow lantana, red rose, pink daphnie, dark pink 4 o'clocks, and some white flowering bush that I have never learned the name of. The rose takes over in the spring and then the 4 o'clocks over run everything in the fall (there used to be morning glories and I will have to get more seed).
Anyway, here is the little garden so far, not really jumbled like the front garden but those are red roses on either side a lilac rose in the middle and the purple and yellow chrysanthemums.

I know the roses don't look like much but they are growing new leaves so I think they will be fine next year especially the lilac one in the middle that grew in such poor conditions on the other side of the house.  I have mulched this bed too since that is pure red clay here and on a slight slope which means all the good soil will just wash right off if I don't but I did buy this bag of mulch today and I usually just mulch with raked up pine straw from the yard. But I saw this bag and it was only $3.39 and I decided to try it. In the second handful I found a piece of rope about a foot long. A few seconds later I found a piece of tin foil and after that I found two circular pieces of plastic. Who knew mulch was just trash? Anyway, I was not real impressed and this tiny little garden took up half the bag and I could have used the whole bag on it but I had looked down at my legs and they were literally covered with mosquitoes. The mosquitoes are quite bad this year with all the rain. Almost makes us wish for drought again.
The 'mums aren't the only deals on flowers today though. I was not as good as Mark at finding perennials but then the petunia can be a perennial here. Though when they come back the next year they all seem to be the lilac color instead of the colors here.

At $2.50 I just couldn't resist these and I actually wouldn't have gone looking for them at all except some woman passed me with a cart that had these baskets hanging all over the outside. I restrained myself and just got one but petunias have been a favorite of mine since I found they could be perennial here. Plus this is a red, white and blue (purple) pot of petunias and it was very patriotic looking.
This might have been all the flowers that I purchase today but the grocery store had some marked down too and I had admired them when I went to that same store last Tuesday but would not buy them for $8. Today they were $ .99.

The two spiky ones in the back are Celosia cristata pumosa 'Venezuela DarkCaracas' and, of course, the plant in the front is hypoeses or as we call them Pink Polka Dot Plant.
When I lived in the North pink polka dot plant was just another house plant but here it is often planted outside. Since it is nearly fall here I think I will keep this one in through the winter and plant it out again next spring.
I am really not sure about the Celosia as I have never grown it before but it does say full or part-sun on the tag so that means the front yard for us. Maybe I will put them in hanging baskets (I have three hooks for hanging baskets on the porch and only the petunias out there now) and then try to over winter them in the greenhouse. Doesn't matter, they were unusual for a flower and I liked them.

I really am doing some vegetable gardening though. I have cleaned out one of the raised beds and planted lettuce and I have another almost clean and will do some cauliflower, spinach mustard tendergreens, and maybe some cabbage or whatever I can find for plants in the others. I also have another cutting of basil to harvest this weekend too. Hopefully the fall garden will be better than the summer one was.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Gardens and Dining at Lake Lure

This is a continuation of our trip to Lake Lure Inn and Spa for my sons wedding. I wanted to tell you about what we ate and the gardens there. 
I will start with what we ate. There is a very nice and very expensive dining room at the hotel and I just had my heart set on dining there. I really don't know why. Normally I would not be excited by eating in such a fancy, formal place but I just wanted to do it just once. 
It was a very pretty place.

And as you can see it was also very empty. There was only one other diner at the time willing to part with so much money for a meal apparently. 
We had clam stuffed mushrooms for an appetizer. They were pretty good but wouldn't be a favorite for me. 
For our main course I ordered braised trout with lemons. It came with rice pilaf with mushrooms and broccoli.The trout was absolutely excellent (I hadn't actually had trout in years and years and then it was wild trout we caught ourselves but trout has always been a favorite of mine) and the rice pilaf wasn't bad but a bit plain. The broccoli was cooked perfectly for me but Phil who also had broccoli did not like it as it was too hard for him. Phil had the ribeye steak and new potatoes and it was also excellent (he gave me a bite). Michelle being the almost vegetarian that she is, had a salad but with grilled chicken.They sent her quite a big salad with lots of strips of grilled chicken and she was not able to eat it all.
The wine we chose beer! Hah, we didn't get too fancy did we? But even the beer was a real treat because we never drink and drive and I don't drink during any of our dinners out since he can't so we never drink at restaurants. We were able to at this one only because we just had a short walk to our room. 
Anyway, it was a lot of money and I probably wouldn't do it again but it was just incredibly nice to do it this time.
As I mentioned in my last post. The only other place we ate was a little dinner on the other side of the motel and we at there for breakfast. 

Another shot of a table off on one end and the view of the lake and mountains.

Totally different from our dining the night before. As you can see we sat outside at a very rustic table. We were surrounded by planters of herbs. (A woman came out and was watering the lemon balm and it smelled wonderful). Our view was the lake. It was quite and so nicely cool (it was about 7:00 a.m. in the morning and it is not usually that cool here in Georgia ). Our breakfast was a buffet and we had eggs, sausage, bacon, grits, biscuits, gravy, French toast and pancakes (no we did not eat all that, it was just what was offered). It was so comfortable that we took our time and just enjoyed it. Later after we had walked back and found the groom my son who had not eaten, we walked him over and treated him to breakfast there as well.
So that was our dining experience at the Lake Lure Inn and Spa. We ate food prepared by the hotel at the reception and their chicken and pork and several other dishes were excellent as well. 

On to the gardens. I made sure to take pictures of the garden mainly because I do so enjoy reading Mark's posts about gardens he sees on his trips that I felt I should do the same. There were lots of lovely gardens at the hotel. This first one I am going to show is the back of the Roosevelt Hall which is where we had the reception. I have never been a big fan of rock gardens but this one was really nice. 

I loved all the different colors of these though I have no idea what they are. 

Moving on to the front of Roosevelt Hall.
Yes it is gorgeous! All in bloom and just lovely. 

Then going on up the hill to the other building that were used in the movie Dirty Dancing, Baby's Bungalo has the prettiest garden beside it. It is a shade garden with a couple little paths and benches. It is not real full or colorful but it still looks so pretty. 

Another view, same garden. 
Behind the hotel there was this small little odd space that they also made into a little garden. I don't feel like my pictures really do it justice but it was a small space and hard to get pictures of it. It was just a little square with stuff planted all around.
A closer shot of one side. 
The only other picture I got was one of these big pots. These were outside between each rooms and filled with different things. They really made it pleasant just walking to your room (our rooms were on the beachfront part of the hotel which is more like the motel part). 

I am very sad that I missed the Flowering Bridge. We passed it while we were headed on our little shopping trip in Chimney Rock but were just too hot to stop on the way back to look at it. It is an old bridge and when the built the new bridge they decided to save the old one and make it into a flowering bridge with a winding path. It looked quite beautiful as we were passing. You can read about it and see pictures here:

So our dining and the gardens were wonderful. I would love to go back again and hope we get the chance when we can stay a day or two longer. 

Lake Lure, Chimney Rock, NC

As some of you who are on my facebook page know, we actually went somewhere! We went to North Carolina for my oldest sons wedding.
Being from New Hampshire and living in Georgia means Phil and I dearly miss seeing mountains on the horizon so it was a wonderful thing when the mountains came into view and the ones by the hotel we stayed at were particularly nice.

The hotel was The Lake Lure Inn and Spa and it is where the movie Dirty Dancing was filmed. There is a large main building and then a smaller more motel like "beach side" rooms.

There is a lake beach across the road from it but we weren't exactly "beach side" from our rooms. Anyway, the place really is lovely for a hotel. To get there you have to go down the small incredibly winding road. I have been through the Appalacian mountains many times and there are a lot of twisty roads but never like this one.
After we had settled in we went down the road to the little tourist town of Chimney Rock. So named for its chimney rock, of course. After seeing how high up it was we decided not to make the climb.
Though I wouldn't have minded a closer look at this waterfall.
There is just one street of touristy shops and we paid our dollar to park and went to visit them. I only took one picture in one of the gem shops.
Behind the shops was the "river" though it looked like a large stream to me.

Well, I was going to add to this post where and what we ate but some of those pictures are on Michelle's phone which, of course, is never charged so that will have to wait for another post. I will be posting later today, pictures of the gardens around the hotel if I get the chance.
I'll leave you with this last shot of my son and his new wife. They are a great couple and I believe are going to be quite happy!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Not Much of a Gardener

I have not been much of a gardener this summer. I do have excuses though. I have been working from 8:00 to 5:30 all summer. I never work that many hours but this year with a new director, I felt it was necessary. When you are taking care of this many children, I think it is important to do it well.
Anyway, that is not my only excuse. It has rained more than I have ever seen it rain during the summer in all the years I have lived here in GA. For a couple weeks it rained every day and on other weeks it rained at least once or twice a week. The weeds in the garden are just right out of control and I have no time to pull them.The garden  is quite literally scary to step in. I am very careful to watch for snakes. With the rain have also come the mosquitoes. We don't normally have that much problem with the mosquitoes but they are terrible this year. Bug spray is a must and I really hate spraying the stuff on me but there is no other choice if you are going to be outside this year.
Excuse number three would be that we just have been doing other things on the weekends, with helping my brother move and repairs on the house, my trips to the garden are few and quick.
It really hasn't been much of a garden anyway. As you all know I just threw in some seeds this year and put the pepper and tomato plants in late. The squash plants died off pretty quickly, some bug got in the stems, the pumpkin plant lasted longer but not much, the beans got over run by the weeds. I did get a few but not much. The tomatoes got eaten down by a deer. They have grown back and grown real tall but have only produced about 5 green tomatoes so far. The pepper plants have done what bell pepper plants always do in my garden, they produce blooms but not peppers.
One success, however, has been the cucumbers. My cucumber plants don't usually produce very much because we get hot too quick and they just die off. This year with the rain and cooler temps, they are thriving.

 So far I have gotten 4 cucumbers in all which is a record for my garden. Here are two I picked the other day.
 Unfortunately one of them had worms which I had never even seen in a cucumber but the other one did not have any and Phil ate it last night.
We may even get a few more..

The only other success in the garden is the basil. I had a package (small) of basil from my seed-of-the-month club that I just tossed in between the blueberry plants. They did well and I cut them today to make pesto.

There is one other edible thing growing in the yard that is doing well and that is the garlic chives.  This patch of garlic chives have been there on our little hill 6 or 7 years (maybe longer) and I hadn't seen it bloom before.

Besides cutting the basil my gardening chores today were to plant rose bushes. I got two little rose bushed marked down to $2.12 yesterday.

The tag says Red Drift. Some type of miniature rose. I planted them outside the fence on one side of the arch (the other side is shaded by the fig tree) and then I went and dug up a rose bush on the other side of the house. It also has miniature blooms but they are lilac colored. It has lived on the other side of the house for years now but only ever gets a couple of blooms if it reaches out enough because that side is shaded by the house. I think it will do much better on the side with the fence if it lives through my transplanting it at this time of year.

 As you can see it has no leaves on it so I felt it was doing so poorly that it was worth the risk. I did intend to trim it down to help it grow more roots but right then the neighbors dog trotted over and Echo was in the back yard. She got so excited and crazy that she chased one of the bantam chickens and caught it (she has not caught one before). I had a heck of a time getting her off it and it was gone by the time I had taken Echo to the house so I don't know how much damage she did but I don't have much hope for that bantam. He was just one of the three rooster bantams that wander the yard but I will not have the dogs attacking the chickens EVER!  Anyway, I should probably get out there and finish the trimming job and then get that pesto made...